Queensland solar tariff buyout scheme vetoed, altered.

Back in the days of solar power’s infancy, the QLD government (most states in Australia also ran their own separately) ran a plan where users feeding solar power back into the grid could receive a ‘premium’ feed-in tariff of $0.44/kWh. With the growing technology behind battery storage and solar panel technology, the 238,000 customers that will remain on the grandfathered premium Queensland solar tariff plan until 2028 pose a threat to the budget and the government have decided to try and figure out a way to ensure it doesn’t become a problem in the future – and they’ve decided to do this via a crackdown on excess battery storage.

Queensland Solar Tariff History

Customers who applied for the Queensland Solar Bonus Scheme before 10 July 2012 and maintain their eligibility can continue to receive a feed-in tariff of 44 cents. Be aware these grandfathered plans are at least 400% more generous than anything you’ll get in 2017 so check before making any changes that may affect your 0.44c! This feed-in tariff is closed to new solar customers and will expire in on July 1, 2028.

With battery storage becoming the norm, there was a push last year (championed by Ergon Energy) to buyout the users of this this tariff or include a ‘voluntary swap’ with battery storage – unsurprisingly this was met warmly by the battery storage industry and the solar industry. It was, however, quashed by the Queensland Productivity Commission in late 2016 as the cost (~$9,000 per household) was deemed too high.

Queensland Energy Minister Mark Bailey introduced a bill on June 15 to limit the amount of energy solar power consumers can feed into the main grid, telling the Courier Mail that it was necessary to stop customers ‘gaming the system’. This is due to projections showing the cost of the scheme could have grown by 25% by 2028 – which would, according to Bailey, raise the cost from $4.1 billion to $5.1 billion. As per the ABC, as part of the new bill those under the Solar Bonus Scheme would no longer be able to feed energy into the grid while taking power from their battery.

Bailey was quoted as saying: “You can either use your solar PV to generate power for your property, or you can use the power coming from your battery,”and “When the Solar Bonus Scheme was first established, new technologies like batteries were not a consideration.”

Mark Bailey Energy Minister - Queensland Solar Tariff Crackdown
Mark Bailey MP on Queensland Solar Tariff Crackdown (source abc.net.au / Patrick Williams)

Further Reading – Queensland Solar Bonus Scheme

The Electricity Act 1994 and the Electricity Regulation 2006 set out many of the rules that apply to the 44 cent premium feed-in tariffBailey’s bill is due to be debated later this year and we’ll keep you posted on its progress.

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